Divorce Self Talk

Challenging Your Self-Talk at the time of Divorce Self Talk
Thoughts can trigger emotions. Challenging and changing your thoughts is another way to work with emotional triggers.
When we leave a relationship and have a marriage breakup ending in divorce we leave with our own assumptions about what went wrong. This creates a story that we tell ourselves, often over and over and over. It is our own story about why the marriage failed and you are now divorcing.
The more and more detailed we get about it: what our spouse did wrong, what we should have said at the time, what it really meant when he/she did or said whatever they did or said, the more the story gets blown up into full Technicolor. And whether your particular story paints you or your spouse as the “bad guy,” that story becomes a strong trigger for all of your negative feelings around the divorce and your soon to be ex-spouse.

Then the more often you tell the story and more you buy into it, the more inflexible and enmeshed in negativity you become. The story creates its own little conclusions: “My spouse is a jerk.” Or “I am stupid.” Or “I will never trust anyone again.” Or “I am obviously not lovable.” These little conclusions end up having big con- sequences. They become the “self-talk” that will guide your actions and decisions going forward. Learning to challenge this self-talk, and even the story that prompted it, is an important tool for taking charge of your emotions during the divorce process.
Here is an Inquiry Exercise—Challenging Your Story
One of the best ways to challenge the self-talk is to ask inquiring questions.
Byron Katie has done some wonderful work around examining self-talk through inquiry. Author, teacher Byron Katie can be found at: http://www.thework.com/index.php
Katie’s goal is to help us break away from the stories that create negative self-talk and keep us limited and unhappy. Katie says that our stories are based on the assumptions we make about others and that it is important to question those assumptions. Byron Katie describes her work as a way of “identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause the discuss finances, and you have identified that talking about money makes you feel panicky. Prior to the meeting, take a few moments to sit in a quiet space. Take a few deep breaths and imagine the meeting in your mind. Imagine yourself feeling totally calm and resourceful. If that seems difficult, take a few more deep breaths and try again. If you did feel calm and resourceful, how would that feel physically? What would your posture be like? How would you speak and listen? Get as much of that experience as you can.
Athletes use this visualization technique all the time to im- prove their performances. They imagine the ball landing softly on the green or how they feel soaring through the air off a ski jump. So rehearse yourself as being in the emotional state that you want to have. Whatever you do, do not rehearse yourself in your old panicked (or other negative emotion) mode! We often misuse the power of our imagination to rehearse everything we don’t want to happen rather than what we want! That just helps us get better at being worse than we want to be.
Heat of Battle Exercise—Push Pause
Naturally, there will be times when you get caught off guard—- life is full of surprises! You will get triggered and feel that rush of emotion before you know what is happening. When you do, stop. Push pause. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself. Let the whole scene freeze if you need to. In most situations, just because it is your turn to say or do something, does not mean you have to! Keep breathing until you feel the emotion subside. If you still feel highly charged with emotion, you can even excuse yourself and take a brisk walk outside for a few moments. Or table the issue for another time entirely.
It may feel uncomfortable to push pause and remain silent. You may feel pressure to continue even though you know your emotions are at the boiling point. Stop. By taking the time to dif- fuse the trigger, the entire process will be much easier on you and produce better, more sustainable results in the long run. anger, fear, depression, addiction, and violence we often feel.” She teaches us to examine our assumptions by asking four questions. The questions seem simple, but if you take the time to answer them seriously, they can be quite profound and help you uproot negative thoughts and feelings that are holding you back. The four questions are:
1. Is it true? 

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? 

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? 

4. Who would you be without the thought? 

Apply the four questions to your own story about your divorce. It is most helpful if you ask it about each part of the story. When asking these four questions, you want to not only apply it to the facts of your story but especially to the underlying assumptions that you have around those facts. For example, part of the story may be that your spouse had an affair. She has admitted it so you know it is true. But the underlying assumptions you have attached to that fact might be things like, “So she never really loved me” or “So, I can’t trust her about anything ever” or “I must have done something wrong that she would do such a thing.” Make sure that you ask the four questions about all parts of your story.
Seeing It Differently Exercise
Another helpful way to change your story and the negative self- talk it creates is to ask yourself the question: How could I see this differently? In this practice, without necessarily questioning whether your story and assumptions are true or not, you let yourself take on a different perspective.
Haven’t you noticed that people can live through the exact same experience yet tell a totally different story about it? For instance, you may have grown up at the same time in the same household with three siblings. More often than not, the four of you will be different and unique in the adults you have become. When you get together to reminisce about your childhood, odds are that your stories about those times will be different. One sib- ling will recall an uncle as mean and patronizing while another sibling will recall him as funny and entertaining. You might remember family holidays as warm and loving while your brother thought they were boring or stressful.
We all process information through our filters, but through this question you have the opportunity to try on other filters. “How could I see this differently?” Let yourself come up with a totally different story—especially different assumptions about why anything happened. Does this new story make you feel differently? Is it possible that there is some truth in this new story? Maybe there is a new perspective that gives you food for thought and calms down the negativity that your old story created?
The point of all of these exercises is to help you experience the control you have over your emotions, even those emotions that seem to tie you in knots and overwhelm you at times. Part of making your divorce process as easy and beneficial as possible is to take charge of your emotions and to get you in the state of mind to produce positive outcomes for you and your family. It does take a little work but you will find that the rewards are worth it.

Divorce as an Opportunity for Positive Change

Divorce is a painful experience for everyone involved, but it is also an opportunity for change. If you can learn to work with your former spouse—despite your differences—you will have taken the first step toward building a rewarding new life. Your divorce can be a time when you learn to take total responsibility for your choices, actions and results. It is an opportunity to become proactive in being responsible for you. During this divorce process you will have the opportunity to choose contentment and responsibility or sadness, anger and blame. You have the choice of moving forward stronger or remaining wounded. You can choose courage or choose fear.
Every moment, every situation, every encounter during your divorce process provides a new choice. Every step gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently and to produce new, more positive results. The greatest power you have is to take responsibility for responding, rather than reacting, to create an effective collaborative working relationship to dissolve your marriage partnership.

Forgiveness is a Divorce Key

Forgiveness is a Divorce Key
I can’t emphasize enough the importance—and magic—of forgiveness during the divorce process. At this point, forgiving your former spouse or yourself may still seem impossible. But keep in mind that forgiveness is not something you do for the person who has hurt you. It is something you do for yourself and for your children.
As radio host Bernard Meltzer says, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past—but you sure do change the future.”
Forgiveness is not about condoning or even completely forget- ting harmful actions or words. It is about lightening your emotional burden. If you have children, this release will help you be a better parent and co-parent. Buddhists compare un-forgiveness to clutching a hot ember; hanging onto it doesn’t harm the ember—- only the one who won’t let it go. Author, speaker Dr. Steve Maraboli says, “The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” And moving forward is what you want, right?
Much has been written about forgiveness and there are many processes to help you forgive yourself or others. The following is from Fred Luskin, PhD, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project and the co-chair of the Garden of Forgiveness Project at Ground Zero in Manhattan. He shares the following advice for forgiving another person.
1. Find Your Voice: Spend some time to know exactly how you feel about what happened. Get to the place where you can articulate what about the situation is not okay. Then tell a couple of trusted people about your experience, your thoughts and feelings.
2. Do It for You: Think of your un-forgiveness as hanging onto a hot ember. Don’t do it to yourself. Make a commitment to do what you have to do to forgive because you will feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.
Many people report feeling unlovable or unworthy as their marriage falls apart. In my experience, it is the rare individual who goes through a divorce without at least a few moments of wondering why they were not good enough, smart enough, mature enough, whatever enough to make the marriage work. Though you might learn something useful through this line of questioning, it is counter-productive to stay there. When your self-esteem is battered and bruised, you tend to feel defensive which kicks you back into reactive mode rather than response- able mode.
So now is the time to recover your self-esteem. You may need to push yourself a bit but there are a number of things that will help you feel better about yourself again. Some form of exercise can be really beneficial right now. Studies consistently find that regular exercisers are healthier, happier, and more productive than they were before they started exercising. Doing fun activities and hobbies you enjoy can be a real boost, as can giving back to the com- munity through some form of volunteering. Surrounding yourself with people who are positive and believe in you is another way to shore up your self-confidence.
This solid sense of self-worth will also help break the cycle of the blame game. When you feel confident, you are in position to respond calmly and tactfully if your spouse still tries to blame you for what has happened. You will be able to acknowledge your part in the breakdown of your marriage and learn from it rather than becoming defensive. You will be able to stay above the fray of blame by keeping your self-esteem in good form.
And if these suggestions don’t work for you, find a professional and talk it out. If you are feeling overwhelmed and still reactive about your relationship and the issues you need to re- solve, seek out a divorce coach or other mental-health professional who can see the situation from a distance. Talking things over with a supportive professional may help to alleviate defensive reactions and help you find a foundation where you can be more responsive.
3. Find Peace: Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that you reconcile with the person who hurt you, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you condone their actions. What you are after is peace. Forgiveness is the peace and understanding that come with releasing blame, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your internal story about the grievances.
4. Put the Past in the Past: Get a different perspective on your un-forgiveness. Recognize that your distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not whatever offended you or hurt you two minutes (or ten years!) ago. Forgiveness heals current hurt feelings and moves the past incident back where it belongs—in the past.
5. Breathe: In the instant you feel upset, take a deep breath. Then take another. Deep breathing is a simple stress-management technique which soothes your body’s flight-or- fight response. It is the only thing you can do consciously to signal your unconscious physical responses to relax.
6. Drop Expectations: Let go of expecting things from other people that they do not choose to give you. Release the expectation that life has to hand you exactly what you want. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have about how life should be or how other people should behave. Remind yourself that you can move toward health, love, peace and prosperity by your own actions and choices.
7. Face Forward: Concentrate your energy into looking for ways to get your needs and goals met rather than focusing on the experience that hurt you. Instead of mentally replay- ing your disappointment in what did not work out for you, seek out new ways to get what you want.
8. Get Even by Getting Better: Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings—thereby giving power to the person who caused you pain—learn to look for and expand the love, beauty 
and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.
9. Tell It Differently: Amend your grievance story. Start leaving out the parts about the hurt and emphasize the parts about the learning. Make it a hero’s journey where you, the hero, found the courage to forgive.
The practice of forgiveness reduces hurt, anger, depression, and stress. It leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self-confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also opens the heart to kind- ness, beauty, and love. So which will you choose?
For more information on forgiveness from Fred Luskin, visit the website www.learningtoforgive.com.

How to Avoid the Blame Game in Divorce

DIVORCE DONE EASIER IMages1.012The Blame Game Challenge.One of the keys to becoming responsible and response-able is to stop the blame game. I discuss the blame game in my book Divorce Done Easier because it is so prevalent in many divorces I see.
Something—or most often, someone—must be to blame for the breakdown of the marriage! Countless hours are wasted trying to assign blame and that practice keeps us stuck in the emotions of guilt, anger, and/ or sadness.
I know, sometimes it is very hard not to assign blame. Sometimes our sense of justice screams out, “This is just wrong.” We want to blame the people who hurt us over and over again. Sometimes these people know that their actions are “wrong” by society standards, but they do them anyway, without compassion or empathy. Sometimes they know their behavior is wrong, and it bothers and shames them to do it—but they claim they can’t help themselves. And sometimes they will claim their actions are justified. Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is, no matter what the circumstances, blame will not help you move forward.
Blame can be a habit that is an integral part of a marriage relationship dynamic. It becomes a pervasive cycle of “he blames her then she blames him” or vice versa. It is contagious and research shows that blame is actually a form of self-defense to protect our own self- image. If we can blame someone else for our problems, then we do not have to point the finger at ourselves. If your ex-spouse blamed you for his or her own failures, you are likely to blame him/her for yours. It is a vicious cycle and to break the cycle can be a challenge.
When you blame another, in many ways you are denying your own power. If someone else’s actions can “cause” you to act, think or feel a certain way, they control your destiny, don’t they? Another’s actions might create a particular circumstance, but what you do about that circumstance is totally up to you. What someone else says or does may “trigger” a reaction in you, but whether you act on that reaction is your choice—though in the heat of battle, it may not feel like it!
To lessen the reaction and take back some of your lost power, refrain from indulging in the blame game. Whether you’re telling your story to yourself or others, avoid painting your ex-spouse as the bad person. Simply stick with the facts of “she did this” or “he said he would do that.” Pay close attention to what you did or said in reaction. Though it might have felt righteously delicious in the moment, did your reaction serve you in the long run? Are you proud of it? Would you have liked someone to react to you in that same way? Was there a better way to respond?
By the way, blaming yourself is no healthier than blaming your spouse. It is one thing to take responsibility for your part in the breakdown of the relationship. It is another thing to blame your- self as if your spouse was a victim of your actions. If you have done something within the relationship that you don’t like, acknowledge it, apologize and make amends if you can, then move on. Use whatever regret you feel as a lesson learned. Holding on to guilt will only cloud your judgment and ability to respond proactively. It will not in any way help your spouse to heal and regain a sense of self-worth.

Be Proactive and Response Able to Old Marriage Dynamics

DIVORCE DONE EASIER IMages1.011During a marriage, couples learn to relate to one another and create their own particular relationship dynamic for the marriage. These dynamics can be blatant or subtle, positive or negative. We often just slip into a pattern of relating to one another without being aware of it. After several years, these patterns and dynamics become automatic, like a knee-jerk reaction. I would say that one of the main reasons couples divorce is that the patterns and dynamics they have developed are not healthy. Couples with healthy dynamics have a greater chance of working through difficulties and conflicts constructively together. Couples with unhealthy dynamics often haven’t developed the skills necessary to face life’s challenges together.
There is a good chance that the relationship dynamics that you and your soon-to-be ex have developed are not healthy. If that is the case, this is your opportunity to recognize what works and does not work about your patterns and make some changes. Both of you played a part in creating the dynamics of your marriage relationship. It only takes one person to shift the dynamic and create different ways of relating and communicating.
How do you identify the relationship dynamics of your marriage? Think about specific times when the two of you made a decision or faced a problem together. Were you each collaborative or combative? How well did you listen to one another? Did you reach a conclusion that was mutually acceptable? Did one of you consistently have the final say? What was your role in the interaction? Passive? Aggressive? Try to examine these questions without assigning “blame” (which we will discuss in more depth) by merely noticing what the patterns seem to be. How well did these patterns work for you?
The next step to improving your relationship dynamics is to focus on what you can change, not on what you think your spouse should change. You cannot change someone else; you can only change yourself. If you decide to no longer participate in the same way or participate in a different, more positive way, the relation- ship dynamic will change. This change may be subtle in the relationship at the start, but by staying the course with your own changed actions and reactions, you will see a greater change fairly quickly.
Respond Versus React
When we get stuck in a relationship dynamic or pattern, we tend to be reactive rather than responsive. Reacting is that knee-jerk feeling where you end up saying or doing something impulsively, almost as if you have no control. Know the feeling? It is when your emotions are triggered and those emotions determine your next move. It’s when someone pushes your buttons and who knows how to do that more effectively than your spouse? When we are reactive, we are falling victim to life, circumstances, other people and our own emotions. We speak and act out of fear, anger, or sadness. When we are operating from a reactive mode, we rarely make choices or decisions that are in anyone’s best interest, especially our own. In reactive mode, we give up our power to choose wisely.
Responding on the other hand is calmer, more thoughtful and definitely more likely to get you where you want to be. This distinction between being reactive and proactively responsive can be confusing for some people. In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Dr. Stephen Covey does a good job of explaining the difference. (If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. I re-read it often, and frequently suggest that my clients read it.)
Stephen’s first habit in the book is: Be Proactive. By this he means to take initiative in life by realizing that your decisions deter- mine the quality of your life, not your circumstances. He urges us to take responsibility for our choices and the consequences that follow. He writes, “Proactive people recognize that they are response able.” In other words, they do not simply react to someone else’s words or actions or even their own emotions. They choose from a place of being responsible.
To be proactive rather than reactive, you need to learn to recognize when you are triggered, to listen to yourself in that moment, and to pause before you respond. That moment between the stimulus (when someone has pushed your buttons) and your response is your greatest place of power. In that moment, you have the freedom to choose how you will respond. Stephen Covey says this about it:
“One of the most important things you choose is what you say. Your language is a good indicator of how you see yourself. A proactive person uses proactive language—I can, I will, I prefer, et cetera. A reactive person uses reactive language I can’t, I have to, if only. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do—they have no choice. Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control.”
From this response-able place you are now better able to move through your divorce with less conflict.

Benefits of Cooperating During a Divorce

iStock_000018612769_SmallBenefits of Cooperating During a Divorce
If you want a divorce that is easier, less painful and more likely to set you and your family up positively for the future, you must understand that your marriage was a partnership. If you cooperatively dissolve the financial aspects of your marriage partnership, you will pave the way for becoming “parent partners” which I describe in more detail in my book “Collaborative Coparenting.”
You actually need to team up and cooperate with the person you are divorcing to get the divorce itself right. It’s an odd twist of fate, isn’t it? You now need to form a decent working relationship with the person who is leaving you or whom you are leaving. It’s not easy. But if you remain open and willing to dissolve the marriage partnership cooperatively, not only will the outcomes of your divorce be more thoughtful and mutually beneficial, you’ll find that releasing your old life and creating a solid future will come more naturally and quickly.
If you have children or ongoing financial business together, a cooperative dissolution of the marriage partnership will benefit you for many years. Even if you don’t have children or ongoing financial businesses together, a cooperative dissolution of the marriage partnership will benefit you emotionally. Whether long-term or short-term, the quality of the dissolution of the marriage partnership now will have significant impacts on your life going for- ward. No matter how resistant you feel to this idea — “Are you kidding me?!? I have to work cooperatively with him/her?!?” — trust me. The effort it takes will be well worth it in the long run.
And the truth is, it is hard to get to that level of cooperation by yourselves, but knowledgeable professionals can help get you there, as these two stories illustrate.
How Much?!?
An example of this was a case I had where a couple in their early forties with no children, had tried to be cooperative with one another as I led them through discussions of dividing up the assets—but they often got stuck. Part of this was due to their natural competitiveness but a large part was from the advice of well-meaning (and unknowledgeable) friends. We were in the final stretch when Wife put her foot down based on advice from a real estate buddy. “Husband took it upon himself to refinance the house, so he should be the one to cover all the fees for the new loan.” “I took it out for both of us,” the Husband argued. “I shouldn’t be stuck with paying 100% of the fees.” They argued for several minutes before I interrupted, asking, “Do either of you know how much money you’re arguing about?” They both shook their heads and I pointed out that the fees for the new loan on the refinance were minimal if they split it evenly. Wife was sheepish when she realized she was arguing about such a small amount and was willing to compromise. They both also realized that they had so much pain and history from ending their relationship that the issue was not the loan fees but their own emotional fears and frustrations.
By using a knowledgeable, professional mediator, they were more easily able to work together cooperatively. [gravityform id=”2″ title=”true” description=”true”]

Tools for Your Divorce

book-with-buy-button Excerpt from my book Divorce Done Easier by Carol Delzer
Tools for the Journey of Divorce: Lao Tzu famously said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I can’t take that step for you, but I do have a number of tools that will make your journey easier and less painful while producing more positive outcomes for you and your family. These tools are not legal strategies or recommendations about how to divide your assets. They’re more powerful than that. The tools offered focus on your most important asset during this process: you and your emotional and mental capacities. You have a power that for many people is usually only tapped in times of crisis. Divorce is a time of crisis and requires the use of that power you have within. I want to make sure you have the tools to tap into that power you have.
A.A. Milne put it, “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Tool #1: Embracing Change—A Transformative Opportunity
Divorce is a huge change in ones life. But we must remember life is all about change. Sometimes it is welcome, but other times it’s terrifying. Many of us are adamantly averse to any type of change. Whether our current circumstances are good or not good, we would still prefer to keep things the way they are, within our comfort zone. People even stress over seemingly positive changes such as financial windfalls or career promotions. The life we know just seems safer than that big unknown out there.
Getting divorced and becoming single usually fall into the not-so-welcome change category. The physical, emotional and financial adjustments of divorce can be overwhelming. Right now, your life may seem broken beyond repair. It may be hard to imagine, but over the years I’ve seen that this can be a positive turning point in a person’s life. Besides, right now, you don’t really have the option to keep everything the same, do you? So rather than resist the changes coming, let’s learn to be good at moving through them!
People who are good with change embrace it. They don’t waste their time kicking and screaming about it, whining to their friends or complaining to their coworkers. Instead, they focus on asking questions like, “What’s next?” or “How can I grow from this experience?” or “How can I make this change as positive as it can be?”
If you’re willing to fully embrace the changes that your divorce will bring to the best of your ability, you’ll have the opportunity to create a rewarding new life for yourself and your family. So take a deep breath, and let’s get started.
Tool #2: Audit Your Attitude
More than anything else, the one attribute that separates people who adjust well to change and those who do not is attitude. Change is inevitable, but you have the choice to make this change better or worse for yourself. Highly successful people are always looking for opportunities to change because change is growth. Here are some ways you can shift your own attitude so that it serves you better:
Alternative Attitude Statements: Ask yourself, “What is my cur- rent attitude about the changes because of this divorce?” Be honest with yourself. Do you feel fearful? Overwhelmed? Resentful that you have to make these changes? Sit down and make a list, put- ting all of your current attitudes into statements such as: “Change stinks.” “My life will never be as good as it was.” “I can’t handle all of these problems.” Leave a few spaces between each statement. If you have any positive attitudes about this change, great! Write those down too.
Now, looking at your list, what are some different attitudes, new ways of thinking and feeling, you can adopt? What attitudes would be more helpful and feel better? These alternate attitudes may not come to you immediately. Think about people you know who are great with change. How would they think about this? Imagine yourself feeling benefitted from this change. What would you be saying to yourself and to people around you?
Take each statement that reflects your current attitude and write an alternative statement. For example, you might counter “Change stinks” with “Change rocks!” How about switching from “My life will never be as good” to “My life can be even better.” Maybe “I can’t handle all these problems” can become “I’m fully ready to go on this adventure!”
I know that your alternate statements may seem phony at first, a Pollyanna wishful thinking kind of thing. But try saying your al- ternate statements a few times. Stand up straight and take a deep breath as you say them. Don’t you feel a little lighter, clearer, more powerful? Doesn’t it feel that you could make better decisions and interact with others more effectively with that attitude?
If you are feeling stuck trying to come up with alternative statements, here are a few to try on: “I have everything I need to move forward positively.” “I am fully capable of handling whatever comes to me.” “I am entering a new chapter of my life, a new adventure.” “Others have made positive changes after divorce and so can I.” “I will grow stronger, more aware and more capable through these changes.” “I am surrounded by people who love me and care about me.” “This divorce will be a positive transformation for me.” “I have the energy and resources I need.” “I know that when one door closes another one opens.” “I know I can and I will succeed.”
Watch Your Language: Attitude is reflected, and actually gets embedded, by the language we use to ourselves and others. Notice how you currently talk about your divorce and the changes it is creating. Are you using words like “problem,” “difficult,” “worried,” or “impossible?” Think about it. If you keep telling yourself and others that your situation is “impossible” or “overwhelming,” what does that do to your ability to move forward? It makes you feel less capable and powerful, doesn’t it? Though it may not seem like much, changing the very words you use can have a big effect on how empowered you feel.
Years ago, success coaches started having us use “challenge” to replace “obstacle” or “problem.” Why? Because a challenge can be fun. When you meet a challenge you feel heroic, brave, creative. A challenge takes you to the next level. Handling “problems” on the other hand is a burden. “Problems” means some- thing is wrong and you have to fix it just to get back to normal. Can you feel the difference? Pay attention to your internal and external language. It may feel awkward at first, but catch yourself when you use negative words and start substituting more empowering ones.
Will you immediately experience a 180-degree shift in your attitude through these exercises? Probably not. But you don’t need 180 degrees. Even small shifts will help you embrace the changes of the divorce process and beyond. Take small steps if you have to. If you’re starting with, “I can’t possibly handle this!” your new statement doesn’t have to be “I am awesomely brilliant and extraordinarily powerful and I can handle anything!” You may want to start with, “I’ve handled challenges in the past and I’m pretty sure I can handle this one.” As Oprah Winfrey put it, “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”
Tool #3: Mindfulness
What is mindfulness? Originally a practice in Buddhism, mindfulness was adopted by Western psychologists as an effective therapeutic technique. In modern psychology as well as Buddhism, mindfulness means to bring your total attention to the present moment. To be mindful is to purposefully pay attention to this moment with all its thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgment of right or wrong. Everything is accepted just as it is.
The nature of mindfulness is to become more present to your life experience and more alive in the moment, more intentionally responsive and less reactive. In a mindful state, you let go of pre- conceived notions about yourself and others; you simply experience what is in the present moment. You open yourself to a greater sense of creativity and connectedness.
Mindfulness basically means awareness. Now more than any other time, it is important to be fully aware of what is going on. With the stress of your marriage breakup and changes in your life, it may feel more challenging to be aware and mindful. There are many things you can do to change your unawareness to a more mindful awareness.
Mindfulness has a way of sounding complicated. It is anything but. It is as simple as paying attention in the moment to information you receive without judging it. The minute you begin to judge information you receive, your mind is entangled in judgment and is not fully present to receive the information. You receive only partial, inaccurate information because you’re distracted by your judgments and reactions.
For example, many couples have a dynamic of splitting the responsibilities. So you may enter into the divorce process not having information about your spouse’s responsibilities. You may not have financial details or may lack information about the children. It’s important that both of you have full information about everything involved in the settlement. But often, as information is revealed, one partner or the other becomes reactive or overwhelmed. One spouse may feel overwhelmed because they do not understand the financial aspects of their marriage while the other spouse may feel angry about the additional responsibilities they will have with the children. Our anxiousness takes on a life of its own, little problems become big problems and then grow to even bigger problems. Being mindful is critical in order to continually process new information.
By using mindfulness, you can be fully present. You receive all of the information you need. You are able to respond rather than react. You consciously choose rather than make choices on autopilot or by default. You can listen more deeply and express yourself more authentically. Mindfulness is one of the best tools you can use for any of life’s challenges.
Because I believe that mindfulness is so powerful and helpful, I will refer to it throughout this book. But to get you started, here are a few tips and exercises to train yourself to become more mindful:
1. Practice mindfulness during routine activities. Try bringing awareness to your daily activities that you may currently be doing on autopilot. For instance, try being mindful as you do the grocery shopping. Pay attention to details in the store and be really observant. Like an explorer discovering a new land, seek to leave the store with information that has always been there but you never noticed before. Notice colors throughout the store, the check stands, clerks, shopping carts. Give your full attention to products, the color and smell, the detail of each product. Without judging “good, bad” or “what I like, or what I don’t like,” simply observe all the grocery store has to offer.
2. Practice being mindful first thing in the morning. Set the tone for your day. As you wake up, notice your surroundings. Take in the colors, smell, texture and experience of your bedroom. Notice how you move from your bed to beginning your day. Don’t judge, observe. Practicing mindfulness first thing in the morning helps set your nervous
system for the rest of the day, increasing the possibility of other mindful moments throughout your day.
3. Build your mindfulness ability. Keep your practice times relatively short when you begin. Your brain will respond to being attentive to information for short periods of time at first. When you start, set a period of time aside where you commit to being mindful with information for 15 minutes three times a day. After one week of doing the practice regularly for 15 minutes, increase it to 30 minutes twice a day. After one month, increase your practice to one hour at least once a day. You are preparing yourself to be mindful for when you are in meetings about your divorce that will often last between one to two hours.
4. Practice mindfulness while you wait. In our fast-paced lives, waiting is a big source of frustration—whether you’re waiting in line or stuck in traffic. But while it might seem like a nuisance, waiting is actually an opportunity for mindfulness. It is also one of the best opportunities you can use to begin noticing information about other people. While you’re waiting, bring your attention to the people around you. Notice if they appear frustrated, sad, happy, easy-going or uptight. Notice their facial expressions and their body posture. Practicing this will be of great help to you as you go through the divorce. Learning how to read body language is being mindful, paying attention, and being committed to practice.
5. Use an affirmation when your attention starts to drift away from listening for information. Whisper a silent affirmation to yourself and use it as a reminder to turn your attention back to the information at hand, for instance, “I am aware, I am listening, I am free of judgment and fear.”
6. Follow a good plan like you follow your goals: do not run on automatic pilot, be consciously applying mindfulness with continuous effort.
7. Think about what you want to say, how you want to say it, and how what you say will impact the listener. If you have a chance, write it down first. Or ask to take a break so you have time to think through what you want to say before you say it. You can also wait until you have had the time to work with a coach or talk to a professional about how to express what you need to say. This is Mindful Speech.
8. Mindfulness is about being reasonable and just. Don’t un- reasonably withhold an agreement. Remember agreements beget agreements. Being reasonable and just also extends to yourself. There is no need to agree to anything until you have had the time to determine its reasonableness for you. Be mindful in reaching agreements.
Mindfulness is not a luxury—it is a practice that trains your brain to be more efficient and better integrated, with improved focus and less distractibility. It minimizes stress and even helps you become your best self. There is now an abundance of neuro- science research to support that mindfulness practice helps our brains be more integrated, so your everyday activities, thoughts, attitudes and perceptions are more aware. The best way to become more mindful is through learning to meditate. There will be a fur- ther discussion on meditation in Chapter 5.
Tool #4: Stay in This Time Zone
As we discussed earlier, when a marriage falls apart, it is human nature to look back and ask, “What the heck happened?” It’s a healthy process to delve back into the past when you use it to learn and grow. But it is not healthy to take up residence there! After you’ve gleaned the lessons that your history can teach you, rehashing it over and over simply saps your energy.
Can you change what happened in the past? No. Can you make the past different or better? No. Can you erase what you said or plug in what you should have said? No. Can you undo the decisions or choices you made? Nope. The only place you can make things better is in the present to lead toward a more positive future. Put your focus and energy on the here and now. Ask yourself,
“What can I do or say right now to feel or interact or communicate or make decisions better?” As Buddha said, “No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.”
And though it is good to look forward, you don’t want to operate from there either. You may be anticipating a bright future or dreading an unknown one, but the only place you can really affect it is now. Your future will be determined by what you do, say and choose right now.
Often in the initial phases of a divorce process, my clients tell me that they simply don’t like the present. Maybe they had to leave a beautiful home to live in a tiny apartment. Maybe they’re having trouble handling the bills or stressing about their children’s emotional upheaval. Maybe they’ve lost friends or connection to family members that were important to them. I fully understand that. But dwelling in the past or dreaming of the future will not help you feel empowered. Staying in the present, doing whatever small thing you can do now for yourself and your family, will give you a greater sense of purpose and stability. If there’s an uncomfortable circumstance in your present that you can fix, fix it. Get that haircut, spruce up your new living space, start a workout program, take up a new hobby or volunteer in your children’s schools or programs. But if there are things in your present over which you have no control, accept them and let them go.
Remaining in the present can be tricky. But if you stay aware and pull yourself back into your current “time zone” when you drift off, you will reap great benefits, feel much more capable to do what needs doing, and have a much easier time throughout the entire divorce process. As author Denis Waitley says, “Learn from the past; set vivid, detailed goals for the future; and live in the only moment over which you have control: now.”
Tool #5: Live in the Present, Plan for the Future
Okay, as Yogi Berra said, “The future ain’t what it used to be!” Consciously or unconsciously, you probably had a future mapped
Divorce Done Easier 22
23 Tools for the Journey
out based on your marriage. You knew where you would live and had ideas about the when and where of your retirement. Maybe you had vacations planned or trips to visit colleges for your kids. Perhaps you had visions of being grandparents together. But now all of that has come undone. Much of the pain of divorcing is that the future you envisioned disappears. It feels like a death of sorts, doesn’t it?
Take a deep breath and acknowledge that the future you had in the past is gone. Honestly, it wasn’t the only possible future for you, was it? What if you had not met your spouse or had married someone else? What if you had chosen a different occupation or had injured yourself in an accident? We all have crossroads in life that, depending on the choices we make, lead us to a different future. Right now, you’re at another crossroad. One path is no longer available to you but several others are.
Often, when clients begin this process of looking into their new future, the outlook seems pretty bleak. They are still attached to that old future and what they’ve lost. As Alexander Graham Bell said over a century ago, “When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.”
Rather than focusing on what isn’t, spend some time investigating what could be. Get curious. What are the possibilities? What could be next for you? In doing this, you’ll want to stay open and loose. Imagine what is possible, not what (based on your current state and circumstances) is probable. Think big for yourself and your children. Raise the bar. Help your children create a new vision for their future as well. Though you definitely want to operate in the present, having a big, juicy vision of the future will be inspiring. It will challenge you to move beyond mere coping and surviving to living fully again.
Tool #6: Go for the Goal
Right now, it may seem exhausting to even think about setting goals! You might feel overwhelmed just trying to handle your
day-to-day tasks. Adding a goal on top of that? Not gonna happen! But the truth is that goals, when done properly, actually energize us rather than expend energy. Just like a vision inspires us, well- structured goals activate all of our cylinders and get us moving again. “Coping” and “figuring out how to get through another day” will sap our energy, but goals refuel and refresh us.
Though goals are things that you accomplish, they are not to- do lists. And though goals should be a stretch for you, they are not as broad as your visions and dreams. For example, “I am healthy, slim and fit, loving my body” is a vision. “Go to the gym” is a task for your to-do list. But a goal is, “By June 30th, I am 15 pounds lighter and have developed a regular routine of working out 3-4 times per week.” Or, “I consistently eat four servings of vegetables every day.”
You may or may not be familiar with the science of goals. As Zig Ziglar once said, “A goal properly set is halfway reached.” So here are a few characteristics of effective goal setting:
1. Measurable: Your goal must be something that you can measure so you will know when you have accomplished it. “Slimmer” is not a goal. “Size 8” is.
2. Set in Time: You need a specific “by when” for your goals. Without a deadline, it’s much too easy to put off doing what needs to be done!
3. Present Tense: When you write your goals, experts say to put them in present tense, for instance “I am” rather than “I will” or “I want….” Why? Because your unconscious mind (which is a great asset in achieving goals!) takes you liter- ally. If you say, “I will be this and that,” your unconscious mind assumes that the goal is always beyond the present time.
4. A Stretch: Good goals help you expand and grow. Don’t you feel great when you’ve accomplished something that is just a bit beyond what you’ve ever done before? This sense of being challenged is part of what makes goals energizing.
Divorce Done Easier 24
25 Tools for the Journey
5. Realistic: If you have never run in your life, participating in a marathon that is three weeks away is not realistic. A goal that is too big of a stretch can be discouraging and stressful rather than energizing and enjoyable. Besides, your uncon- scious mind will know if your goal is too far out there and it will sabotage your efforts.
6. Personal: By this I mean that the goal, like your vision for the future, has to be something that is important to you. Other people may have ideas about what we should be or should want, but you’re the one living your life, right? Make sure that you aren’t setting your goals for your mother or the Joneses next door. Good goals are focused on what makes you feel fulfilled and happy.
What should you set goals about? In some ways, it doesn’t mat- ter. Just the act of setting a goal and moving toward it will make you feel better about yourself, more confident, and more capable—all qualities that are important as you proceed through the divorce process.
Tool #7: Let Go of the Past
We’ve discussed staying in the present and looking toward the future. Because attachment to the past is such a big stumbling block, it is worth exploring at more depth. During the divorce process, it is critical to thoroughly let go of the past as quickly as possible. If you don’t, your decisions and choices will be colored by whatever hurt, anger, resentment, disappointment, and humiliation you still cling to.
Arrgh! This may not even seem possible just yet! However, the sooner you step into the process of letting go of all that negativity, the sooner you will return to your capable, loving, rational, creative, powerful and positive self. Isn’t that the person who should be making all the important choices before you? Do you really want that crazy, bitter, reactive self to make decisions that will affect you and your children for many years to come? Do you want that resentful, vengeful self to undermine all the good you could do in this process?
While letting go of the past is important for the divorce process, letting go of all its pain is important to your own healing as well. Letting go of the past doesn’t mean simply telling yourself to get over your emotions and get on with it. It doesn’t mean that you should pretend your relationship never happened or that you’re not hurting when, in fact, you are. What it does mean is learning to live each day in the present without constantly let- ting negative emotions such as blame, anger, and resentment run your life. It means processing through the pain in whatever way works for you, so that you come out on the other end feeling whole and complete.
During this critical time, many of my clients have benefitted from counseling or working with a divorce coach. They’ve picked up books (like this one!) to get thoughtful advice from people who have traveled this road before them. Whatever you choose, make this letting go process a priority. It will benefit you more than just about anything else you do. And to assist with this, try saying these affirmations (and others that come to you) aloud, breathing deeply as you do:
I let go of resentment. I let go of anger.
I let go of humiliation. I let go of fear.
I let go of disappointment.
I let go of past conflicts.
I let go of emotional wounds.
I let go of blame.
I let go of lashing out.
I let go of what might have been. I let go of the past.
Tool #8: Your Support System
We’ll discuss how to build your professional support network in Chapter 9, but here, let’s talk about your personal support. These are the friends and family who can help pick you up when you’re down, act as good sounding boards for your issues and ideas, and encourage you as you move forward with your life. Optimally, these people believe in you, your capabilities and potential. They are the cheerleaders, not the naysayers. They care more about supporting your present and future than rehashing your past.
Do you have such a network? Many of my clients did not initially have one when they came to see me. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for couples to form a tight unit and ignore the friends they had when they were single. Or they build a network of couples as friends and during a divorce these friends may take sides or feel uncomfortable interacting with you separately.
I strongly urge you to not try to go it alone. If you don’t currently have a good positive network of friends and family, put some effort into developing one. Invite the mother of your child’s playmate to lunch. Meet people by doing activities you enjoy. Join support groups or a spiritual community of your choice. Building a network of supportive friends, or even just one supportive relationship, can be vital to your wellbeing. The more people you have in your life, the more likely you are to have truly supportive relationships with at least one of them. Some people give off positive energy that makes you feel good. Others give off negative energy that is draining. Pay attention to your intuition to find a healthy social circle. Ask yourself, do you feel they truly understand and accept you? Do you truly understand and accept them? Do you feel energized or energetically depleted after spending time with them? Do you include them in your life for the positive qualities they bring out in you, or not? For a free copy of Divorce Done Easier come to Family Law Center at 1722 Professional Drive Sacramento

Are you the Leaver Or Leavee? Whose decision was it to end the marriage?

DIVORCE DONE EASIER IMages1.004“Whose decision was it to end the marriage?”

The person who makes the decision to end the divorce is often referred to as the “leaver.”

The spouse who did not make the decision to end the marriage is referred to as the “leavee.”

Psychological studies show the leaver is often 9-18 months further along emotionally than the leavee. I have seen a wide variation in this timing.  I have also noticed that men seem to able to move on faster even when it was not their decision to end the marriage. Women need more time.

If you were not the one who decided to end the marriage, you may still be dealing with the disappointment of the ending of the marriage and are not ready to be rushed into making decisions about your future. When we feel rushed or pushed into something, our normal human reaction is to resist. When resistance happens in the divorcing process, it increases conflict and adversarial positioning, eventually leading to decisions being settled by the court. When divorcing spouses take their fear and resistance to court, it may become the place to cathartically work through their personal emotional lack of readiness. But it’s a shame that hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent because one spouse is in a hurry and the other just needs time before they are able to make decisions and  move forward, when all that was really needed was just a little more time.

It is also a shame to see one spouse unreasonably delay the process because they did not have the tools to prepare themselves. Spouses who are willing to be patient, pacing the divorce to respect both parties’ needs, will save not only thousands of dollars, but also avoid additional pain and conflict.

The divorce mediation process is intended to prepare couples emotionally and practically to move forward in a timely manner and how to ask for the time needed for preparation.  But it is also critical not to drag or slow down the mediation process in such a way it frustrates the other spouse.  Let a highly skilled mediator help you with the divorce process.  Call today to schedule an appointment.

A Timely Divorce

 DIVORCE DONE EASIER IMages1.013A Timely Divorce

Even the decision of when to proceed with the divorce will create very different choices and outcomes. When a couple can communicate well enough at the time of breakup to make decisions together respectfully and cooperatively, they are in the best frame of mind to proceed. However, if emotions are still running high and a couple’s communication is so mired in conflict that they can’t make even simple decisions together, they usually benefit by completing the necessary temporary agreements initially and waiting a reasonable time to tackle the more complex, difficult and permanent decisions of the divorce. Time often heals wounds and soothes frayed nerves. Allowing a reasonable time before proceeding with all the details and decisions within a divorce can be very healing, reduce stress and allow for the best results and possibilities to emerge. Even if you and your spouse cannot communicate or you think you will never be able to work together or communicate, keep reading. You will find good solid advice in chapters ahead that will make your divorce easier.

This critical slice of time and choices made reminds me of the movie, Sliding Doors. Gwyneth Paltrow plays a woman whose boyfriend (unbeknownst to her) is having an affair. Gwyneth is fired from her job early one morning and heads home. At this point, the story splits into two different realities. In one, she catches her train home and finds her boyfriend in bed with the other woman. In the second reality, she misses the train and, by the time she gets home, her boyfriend’s mistress is gone. The two stories continue from there, showing how her life proceeds along the two separate life paths based on catching or missing that train.

Choices you make in the initial phases of your divorce will lead you to very different experiences. Obviously, you are not making these choices alone. The two of you are determining the course of your divorce together, which can sometimes give you a feeling of powerlessness.

When to Proceed with a Divorce

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When to proceed?   Timing can mean everything to a divorce process, a point that I constantly emphasize to my clients. It is critical to honor and respect each other’s individual timing in moving through the divorce. Being aware of what each person needs and not trying to go faster than the slowest spouse can reasonably move will make a world of difference. In my experience, it is the best environment for moving a divorce along at the couple’s pace, not the pace set by the courts or someone else. To move any faster than the slowest party can reasonably move in a divorce may push the couple into becoming resistant and adversarial, which is not an ideal direction for any divorcing couple.

Divorce Choices?

Divorce Signpost Meaning Custody Split Assets And Lawyers
Divorce Signpost Meaning Custody Split Assets And Lawyers

Unfortunately in a divorce, the time when you feel least capable of making good decisions is when you have to make them. There is a slice of time at the end of a marriage when you have to make the critical choice about how you will proceed with the dissolution.

During this slice of time, the choices that are made about the divorcing process will have a huge impact on you, your children and your relationship with your future ex-spouse for several years, and maybe a lifetime.


Don’t try to figure this out on your own.  I can help you.  [gravityform id=”2″ title=”true” description=”true”]

The power of choice during divorce?

Conflict Resolution Buttons Showing Dispute Or Negotiating

You Have a Choice.  Despite the fact that you have come to the point where your differences, whatever they are, are irreconcilable, you still have a lot of choice in what happens next. The choice to “live happily ever after” with your current spouse may not still be an option. However, you still have a myriad of choices that can reduce the stress of your divorce and create a positive foundation for your future and that of your children.

Initially, it may feel like the divorce process has a life of its own, that you are skidding down a slippery slope and you can’t find the brakes. You may feel powerless and out of control—but you aren’t.

There are many choices you have within the divorce process and how to manage these choices so they don’t manage and control you is the key. The decisions made during your divorce can be your choice.

You always have choice. Up to this point, you may have felt that life just happens and you have no control over it. But the opportunity to choose in every moment is as integral a part of life as is breathing. The truth is, even when you cannot control circumstances, you always have the choice of how you react to the people and situations in your life.

When life hits the fan, you always have the choice to learn and grow from it or become embittered by it. You always have the ability to choose whether you’ll make decisions from a calm, empowered place or an angry, hurt reactive place

No matter how brilliant or how self-destructive your choices may have been in the past, you can choose to do it differently going forward. Your history and the history of your marriage do not predetermine your future. Reflecting on choices you made in the past is helpful because you can learn from it, but it is not helpful if you use it to beat yourself up. Honestly? Most of us do the best we can at any point in time given who we are and what we know. Maybe your past decision-making was not perfect, but this is your opportunity to do it better to pave a path for an easier future for you and your children to enjoy.

The Downside of a No-Fault Divorce

Mid adult couple in professional marriage therapy
Mid adult couple in professional marriage therapy

No-fault Divorce

Though no-fault divorce has definitely helped many couples avoid the nastiness of proving that one party has breached the marital contract, many of my clients have a difficult time coming to terms with the concept of “no-fault” in the breakdown of the marriage. “Of course, there was fault! If he hadn’t done X, Y, Z, we’d be fine!” “If only she had done X, Y, Z, we would still be together!” Something or someone had to be wrong for this breakup to happen.

Even when the divorcing spouses are not determined to place blame on the other, they still feel a natural impulse to question why and how it happened. As human beings, we’re wired for survival. When something happens that harms or hurts us, we instinctually try to figure it out so we can avoid that pain in the future. We’re not just curious—we’re almost driven to come up with a way to understand the situation.

And once we think we have it figured out, it feels equally important to tell others about it. To “get it off our chest.” To “tell our side of the story.” To “explain how it all happened.” To “have their day in court,” even if they settle outside of the courtroom. It is common to feel this strong need to explain why the marriage failed. Many of my clients can’t come to closure or complete their divorce without expressing what they feel is true about the situation.

In my experience, if a spouse needs to talk about the history of the marriage breakdown and isn’t given the chance to do so, the divorce process can become prolonged or adversarial. Because they haven’t had an opportunity to discuss why the marriage ended and their experience of what went wrong, frustration builds up. Unfortunately, they often use the divorce process itself to work through this frustration, creating unnecessary roadblocks, conflict delays, pain and lots of unnecessary attorney fees!

Please give mediation a try. It will allow you a place to avoid this unnecessary conflict and expense. There is No Retainer when you choose me as your divorce mediator. You pay as you go. Come for a consultation and avoid the unnecessary expensive of a prolonged family law court battle.[gravityform id=”2″ title=”true” description=”true”]

Irreconcilable Differences

mature couple fighting together pulling rope isolated on white
mature couple fighting together pulling rope isolated on white

Legally Irreconcilable

“Irreconcilable differences” is a legal term and the most common reason for granting a no-fault divorce.  Some states use the terms irremediable breakdown, irretrievable breakdown, or incompatibility, but basically they all mean the same thing: The existence of significant differences between a married couple that are so great and beyond resolution as to make the marriage unworkable, and for which the law permits a divorce.

Most states have some form of no-fault divorce now, though some states require extensive waiting periods before granting the final dissolution of marriage. (Your divorce will be governed by laws of the state within which you and your spouse live.) No-fault divorces were created to avoid the messy, painful and expensive process of establishing that one person was to blame or totally responsible for the breakup. Prior to no-fault divorces, divorce was handled as a breach of contract. So even in cases where the separa- tion was amicable and mutual, someone had to be painted as the bad guy in front of a judge. No-fault divorce removes that necessity (though some divorcing parties still opt for various reasons to go the “breach of marital contract” route). Judges routinely grant a divorce as long as the spouse seeking the dissolution states that the couple has irreconcilable differences. By law, if one party says the marriage is irretrievable and refuses to reconcile, then such differences are proven to exist.[gravityform id=”1″ title=”true” description=”true”]

Broken Dreams, Unmet Expectations

Plastic wedding couple on coins - money concept
Plastic wedding couple on coins – money concept

Broken Dreams, Unmet Expectations

Most marriages begin with high expectations. Weddings, whether large or small, were the public celebrations of this glorious new life of “happily ever after.”

Wedding vows, besides setting contractual expectations for the relationship, proclaim a dream that includes love and honor one another “until death do us part.”

Some of our high marital expectations are conscious and some are not. Of course, it’s hard enough to meet someone’s explicitly stated expectations. The ones that are hidden when even the person who has them doesn’t realize they exist? Impossible!

Yet we’re still disappointed when our conscious and unconscious expectations of our mate don’t happen. Not only are we shocked and upset when our expectations aren’t met, but we also attribute meaning to the fact that they aren’t met. “If he really loved me, he would. . .” “If she really cared about me, she would. . .” Any of that sound familiar?

We assume (mistakenly) that our partner under- stands our expectations and values the same things we do.

So when expectations are not fulfilled, we see ourselves or our partner as a big disappointment. Your expectations were not right or wrong. They just were what they were.

But for now, the disappointment of unmet expectations and broken dreams can be devastating and very painful. You may place a lot of blame on your spouse that he/she did not live up to your expectations or promises made. You may blame yourself and feel a lot of guilt that your marriage did not turn out to be “happily ever after.”

The truth is, more often than not, both parties contribute to the breakdown of a marriage. And how you deal with your feelings of pain and disappointment will have a tremendous impact on how difficult or reasonable the divorce process is for you.

The next decision you make about how to come apart may be the most important decision of your lifetime. Come see me for a consultation to discuss your divorce options.[gravityform id=”2″ title=”true” description=”true”]

Why Should you Trust Me?

Why should you trust me?  phot red2 I’ve been there and done that—and even got the t-shirt! It was my own divorce many years ago that inspired me to find less brutal ways to dissolve a marriage both legally and emotionally. I became a family law attorney with a specialty in divorce mediation and collaborative practice. And, knowing that the psychological or emotional side of divorce is equally as important as the legal side, I earned my Licensed Marriage Family Therapist. I also limited my law practice to only Family Law and took a second bar exam to become a Certified Family Law Specialist, a designation given to me from the State Bar of California. My website contains a detailed Curriculum Vitae.

I have helped over a thousand couples divorce and have wit- nessed the full gamut of financial circumstances, personality types, and causes for the separation, clients of all ages and ethnicities, and family dynamics. In 90% of these cases they were able to create a mutually acceptable Divorce through a process that was respectful, non-adversarial and much less expensive than so-called “normal” divorce proceedings.

Usually in the beginning of the process, these clients were anxious and uncertain, struggling to figure out just how life would look after divorce. But by the time everything was finalized, the vast majority of them felt confident and empowered.

You can too.

Like my professional background, the book Divorce Done Easier focuses on the emotional and psychological aspects of divorce as well as your options for the legal process. Why? Because, if you’re in a rotten place emotionally, you cannot make good decisions. And if you make bad decisions, it will be tough for you to recover emotionally and financially from the dissolution. The two go hand in hand.

When you visit me at my law office Family Law Center, APC in Sacramento you will receive a Free Copy of my book Divorce Done Easier.

I look forward to assisting you soon.

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Why Do Marriages Fall Apart?

Portrait of sad mature woman against elderly man with newspaper in home interior

Why do marriages fall apart? As couples, most of us start out with differences but we assume we’ll be able to work them out or they just aren’t that important. We may even realize we don’t know absolutely everything about the person we decided to marry, so we may discover differences we didn’t know about. But we certainly didn’t think we would have irreconcilable differences. If we did, none of us would have ever married in the first place! An irreconcilable difference is any sort of difference where two parties cannot or will not change in order to come together.

Marriages start with differences we know about and differences we don’t know about. Then, as time passes, yet another component is thrown in: change. What changes? Life itself changes and is ever changing. Our circumstances change. We have children, we make or lose money, we move closer to or away from family.

Our perspectives change. We become more or less conservative, more or less spiritually oriented. Our bodies change. Our atti- tudes change. Our hobbies, interests, careers, passions—almost everything about us changes. In fact, as John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life.” Change is the one thing you can count on to be constant.

And change is good, right? You wouldn’t want to stay frozen in time and remain the same person you were in your teens. Change is about growing and maturing and expanding our horizons. Sometimes, couples do this growing and expanding together. But sometimes the changes that two individuals go through lead them farther apart. Let’s take a look at a specific case study.

Cooperating with your Ex to Dissolve the Marriage

Cooperating with your Ex to Dissolve the MarriageiStock_000003405828_Small

“What?!? You’re saying I am supposed to cooperate with my ex now?!?”

Yes.  If you want a divorce that is easier, less painful and more likely to set you and your family up positively for the future, you must understand that your marriage was a partnership. If you cooperatively dissolve the financial aspects of your marriage partnership, you will pave the way for becoming “parent partners” which we will talk about in future blogs. You actually need to team up and cooperate with the person you are divorcing to get the divorce itself right. It’s an odd twist of fate, isn’t it? You now need to form a decent working relationship with the person who is leaving you or whom you are leaving. It’s not easy. But if you remain open and willing to dissolve the marriage partnership cooperatively, not only will the outcomes of your divorce be more thoughtful and mutually beneficial, you’ll find that releasing your old life and creating a solid future will come more naturally and quickly.

Are you ready to use the “D” word?

Sad Couple Sitting On Couch After Having Quarrel

The D word is not one you want to use in a marriage until and when you really mean it. Saying you want a “Divorce” is not something you say until you are ready.

To end a marriage is a big decision, worsened by that heart-sinking feeling of knowing you have to tell them. The actual thought of being the one in the marriage to end it is even more difficult than many understand and realize. Worsened by the fears of having to be the marriage partner breaking the news can make you feel anxious, even terrified.

Sometimes it seems easier to continue with a bad marriage than to ‘upset the applecart’.” But if you have given the marriage your all and it is not working for you it is ultimately not right for either of you.

The longer an unfulfilling marriage continues, the less chance it has of getting to a happier place. Marriage is like a relationship with a separate energy all of its own. When a marriage is energetically good it can endure a lot, like a healthy immune system. But when the marriage has an unhealthy immune system it takes very little to trigger anger, insults and frustration.

So before using the “D” word you need to measure the immune system of your marriage. These questions will help. If you anser No to over half of the questions your marriage is ready for a Divorce unless something changes:

  1. Do you still love your spouse?
  2. Do you feel loved by your spouse?
  3. Are the two of you still sexually intimate?
  4. Is your marriage good more than 50% of the time?
  5. Do you feel treated with respect by your spouse?
  6. Do you treat your spouse with respect?
  7. Is your marriage a true partnership – do you both have a sense of equality and input?
  8. Are you in counseling over the issues you argue about?
  9. Is the communication between you and your marriage partner good?
  10. Are you able to forgive your spouse for past transgressions?
  11. Is your spouse able to forgive you for past transgressions?

No matter what anyone else thinks, it’s your life, so you get to decide. You and your children will live with the consequences, not your friends, family or professionals. So you need to be ready if you decide to divorce. Take the time to reflect on the questions to be sure your ready before you use the “D” word.

When you are ready to use the “Divorce” word come see me for a free copy of my book “Divorce Done Easier.”

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The Greying of Divorce

Since 1990, the divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50 has doubled, and the rate for Americans over age 65 is even a higher, according to the study by the National Center for Family & Marriage at Bowling Green State University.

The marital status for aging adults over 65 of being divorced rather than widowed is increasing.  Americans are living longer and once the children are gone they are starting to see a life better lived apart than together. In addition divorce has also become more socially acceptable.  More recently, Wu and Schimmele suggested that broad cultural shifts in the meanings of marriage and divorce influence all generations, including older adults. Specifically, the weakening norm of marriage as a lifelong institution coupled with a heightened emphasis on individual fulfillment and satisfaction through marriage may contribute to an increase in divorce among older adults, including those in long-term first marriages.

for more information on the study here is a link: National Center Family & Marriage Research